November 12, 2013
When Adams County Commissioner Chair Randy Phiel volunteers at the National Apple Harvest Festival in Arendtsville, he experiences a spotty signal on his cellphone, a device he uses for email and to access the worldwide web. And while Phiel, a 62-year-old, is ahead of the curve when it comes to Internet mobility, his problem is just a snapshot of what Adams County residents face regarding broadband connectivity and availability.
There are some people in Adams County who struggle to get a decent connection to the web at their houses. There are some who still use a dial-up connection. And it is these Internet challenges, Phiel said, that need to be overcome for the county to remain economically viable. "We don't have enhanced broadband," Phiel said. "That's how simple it is. Enhanced Internet is tied into our economic future, jobs, education opportunities and quality of life."
Phiel and his fellow commissioners listened recently to a presentation by members of Adams County Connected, a grassroots group aiming to bring better Internet infrastructure to the county. In the year-and-a-half since its inception, the broadband task force established that there are areas of Adams County that are under-served when it comes to the Internet. Josh Hinkle, an independent consultant who serves as the chair of Adams County Connected, said an estimated 20 percent of homes remain unconnected from broadband.
And in response to that, Hinkle said, the group has brought together five companies with a vested interest in expanding Internet availability in the county. Hinkle said Sprint, Verizon, Level3, Comcast and CenturyLink were all represented on the task force's infrastructure committee recently. And once the Internet providers came to the table, Hinkle said, their interest grew. "They're a business," Hinkle said. "If they have the opportunity to sell their services to more people, they're going to be at that table."
Hinkle said he is restricted in what he could disclose, but noted wireless companies have plans in place for the expansion of next-generation technology that will greatly increase its speed and coverage. David Laughman, owner of DL3 Systems in Gettysburg and member of the task force, said the county needs to acquire the infrastructure that will entice businesses to Adams County. "We don't want smokestack-type businesses," Laughman said. Gerry Michaels, owner of Glasswork Media Arts in Cashtown and member of the task force, said small businesses and home offices are a huge piece of economic development the county needs to get a handle on and tap into. He said facilitating residents' use of home offices increases economic viability without putting an additional strain on environmental and infrastructure needs. "Ninety percent of my business is done through video meetings," Michaels said. "I'm working with the Chinese Internet and a company out of Italy. And I'm doing this from Cashtown, Pa. That's where we're at in the world."
And if Adams County's economic development is the destination, the transportation device to get there is education. Hinkle said education will create an opportunity for the county's youth. "The digital divide follows the economic divide," he said. "If a kid goes home with a laptop and can't do his homework, he is falling behind. We need to continue to communicate with and support local school districts to make technology accessible and relevant." Shannon Harvey, vice president of Harrisburg Area Community College's Gettysburg campus, said in meeting with school district officials around the county, she found people want to learn more. "Schools were saying we need more coordination," Harvey said. "It was the first time district officials came outside their buildings to talk about Internet connectivity and education. And residents want more education, help and services too."
Members of Adams County Connected will make a truncated, more official presentation to county commissioners at the board's Wednesday meeting. Hinkle said it is vital to maintain the momentum already established. "We need to make connectivity the new opportunity of economic development and education," Hinkle said. "To grow and sell more apples, to bring more buses to Gettysburg for tourism; connectivity is that opportunity."
Commissioner Marty Qually said the commissioners will soon appoint support staff - likely a county planner or member of the IT department - to get the county more involved with the process. He said the county involvement is critical to moving forward. "Our planners currently work with businesses and developers," Qually said. "This is another layer of infrastructure. That's what I want people to get. This is as vital as going from a horse-drawn carriage to a car." Hanover Evening Sun
U.S. cable television operators - including Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Cox Communications - are allowing more customers access to the Filipino Channel in the wake of last week's devastating Typhoon Haiyan. The channel has been providing special coverage from the Philippines. News organizations are reporting that food and water is becoming scarce, and that rescue workers are scrambling to reach thousands of victims of the powerful storm. "To help Filipinos better connect to news and information about recovery efforts, Time Warner Cable and the Filipino Channel have agreed to make their network available at no additional cost to digital customers through Nov. 15," Time Warner Cable said Monday in a statement.
International Media Distribution, which distributes the channel, said at least 12 pay TV operators would offer their digital customers access to the Filipino Channel through Nov. 15. The list of providers also includes AT&T U-Verse, Bright House Networks, Frontier Communications, Hawaiian Telcom, Verizon FiOS TV and Wave Broadband. The Filipino Channel (TFC) is available in the United States as a premium cable channel. Its U.S. operations are located in Northern California.
"We at TFC are most thankful to IMD and our partner operators for their timely collaborative efforts to reach as many viewers as possible, update them on Typhoon Haiyan via TFC's ongoing special coverage, and even inform people how to help," Jun Del Rosario, ABS-CBN's global head of carriage, said in a statement. ABS-CBN is the oldest commercial TV network in the Philippines. It is a unit of the media conglomerate ABS-CBN Corp. The company's flagship television station is DWWX-TV in Manila. In the U.S., its programming is available on the Filipino Channel. Los Angeles Times
Dish Network Corp. swung to a third-quarter profit on higher revenue and subscriber rolls, while former unit EchoStar Corp. posted a weaker profit. Dish has struggled to combat subscriber losses amid a maturing U.S. subscription-television market and the growing popularity of online entertainment. The company launched a Blockbuster-branded streaming service last year and has attempted to attract more affluent customers who are less likely to cancel their service. Dish reported a profit of $314.9 million, or 68 cents a share, compared with a year-earlier loss of $158.5 million, or 35 cents a share. The year-ago period included $730.5 million in litigation expenses. Revenue rose 2.2% to $3.6 billion.
Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters forecast earnings of 43 cents a share on revenue of $3.58 billion. Dish added about 35,000 pay-TV subscribers, compared with a loss of 19,000 in the same period in 2012. The company closed the quarter with about 14.05 million pay-TV subscribers compared with 14.04 million pay-TV subscribers at the end of the year-ago third quarter. The company also added about 75,000 net broadband subscribers in the latest quarter, versus additions of 17,000 in the year-earlier quarter. Its broadband subscriber base jumped 24% from the second quarter to 385,000. Meanwhile, EchoStar-the maker of set-top boxes that was spun off from Dish at the beginning of 2008-reported income dropped to $4.3 million, or five cents a share, from $22.6 million, or 26 cents a share, a year earlier. Revenue rose 11% to $848.9 million. Wall Street Journal
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